Storms are rolling in, ominous clouds are gathering. Trees are swaying in the wind. Thunder rumbles overhead. A few raindrops are hitting my roof . . . but I think I knew they were coming long before the first visible signs showed up.

Waking in the mornings has always been a challenge for me but it’s especially tough on days that pain is my first waking sensation. It was today. And my first inclination is to try to go back to sleep – the only place I am not consumed by pain’s tentacles. To sink back into grogginess and ignore it all.

My second inclination is to sink into despair. To climb into that all too familiar place and pull those covers up around my soul like a warm blanket on a cold day.

But my new inclination, a choice of my will, is to face it. To call out to my Lord in its midst. To offer up, though feeble yet prayers of praise in pain’s midst. To call upon the strength that God supplies. And to rise, intent on living this day leaning on the arms of my Savior.

So today, the new won out over old patterns. My prayers, my cries ascended. My Lord drew near. My soul is at peace even though my body is weakened and isn’t responding to my commands to move faster. Get ready for the day. Attack the tasks on my list that must be hurdled this day.

And so I sit. I bask in my Lord’s presence. I pray. I read. I contemplate the burdens of my heart concerning the children among whom I minister. I rail against the injustice of their lives, and the lives of so many across our planet. I ask, again, of my Lord, ‘what do you want me to do?’ How do I respond? How can I help? How can I urge others . . . .

And His ever patient and grace-filled response is to love me. To sit with me. To hear my heart. To cry with me. To remind me that alone I can do nothing of any consequence. But in His power and strength there is much I can, and must do.

A glance outside – sunlight is breaking through, filtering through the still swaying limbs and leaves above, and dancing on the grass. A reminder that above all storms is the sun shining brightly. Above our struggles, there is a God. There is a Savior. There is a Shepherd who picks up hurting and lost sheep and tosses them up on His shoulders to carry them until they are strong enough to run again.

O my Lord and my Shepherd, will you carry me this day? Will you work through me? Will you give my words power to be a voice for the voiceless? And will you give all who would read these words evidences of your love and tears over their pain? Will you plant in their hearts a hope that runs deep?

And as storms roll in . . . please help each of us lean on the strong arms of our Savior.